While British TV viewers will always have a soft spot for the 1992 BBC TV series with Ian Holm, this big-screen version of The Borrowers made five years later is delightful too.
It’s based on Mary Norton’s charming children’s books about a family of little people who secretly live under the floorboards or behind the walls in the houses of humans (or ‘human beans’ as the borrowers call us), surviving by ‘borrowing’ cast-off bits of string, buttons, scraps and crumbs to furnish their miniature home and feed themselves.
A mix of comedy, adventure and brilliant special effects from Garfield director Peter Hewitt, this follows the teeny tiny Clock family, led by dad Pod (Broadbent) and mum Homily (Imrie), as their nice little world is disrupted when the owner of the house in which they live dies, and mean American lawyer Ocious P Potter (Goodman, on fine comic form) arrives to flatten it and build apartments on the land.
It’s thoroughly entertaining, thanks to some great performances from Broadbent (‘we may be small but heaven help anyone who thinks he might squish us’), Imrie and a supporting cast of comic actors such as Hugh Laurie, Ruby Wax and The Fast Show’s Mark Williams – a must-see slice of hilarity for all ages.
Fans of Hewitt’s earlier movie, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, should keep their eyes peeled for Bill himself, aka Alex Winter, who makes a brief cameo appearance, while Harry Potter fans will recognise Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) as Peagreen.
Is The Borrowers suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
It’s mostly slapstick, but a scene in which little Peagreen is trapped in a milk bottle on a conveyer belt and Arrietty and Spud Spiller are trying to rescue him while Potter smashes the bottles, may upset younger viewers.